The history of museums is intimately bound up with the history of reproductive media. Ever since museums came into existence, the question of the technical reproduction of originals has always played an important role.
Shortly after Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, had opened the Picture Gallery in a purpose-built gallery building in 1747, the "Koenigliches Galeriewerk" was produced: the major works being published in the form of a collection of large-format engravings. The first volume of the Galeriewerk appeared in 1753, the second in 1757. Over the following decades, ever new techniques were used for making reproductions. Books about the museum were illustrated with printed graphics, including etchings, lithographs and photographs. Finally, in recent times, CD-ROMs and the Internet have been used as communication facilities
It is a logical next step in this history of the use of media by the museum that we should take on the challenge of the 3-D web. For the first time it is even possible to convey a sense of the exhibition space, which is an essential aspect of any museum visit. How users will react to this technology is as yet unknown. We are particularly interested to know how this new offer is used, and what users think could be done to develop it further. The virtual version of the Old Masters Picture Gallery is being supervised and scientifically monitored by the Institut fuer Kommunikationswissenschaft at Dresden University of Technology under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Lutz M. Hagen.